OAKLAND — With just over four minutes left on the clock and the Golden State Warriors suddenly commanding a five-point advantage, the giant video boards that hang over center court caught Stephen Curry whispering into the ear of Kevin Durant.
As the Houston Rockets called for a timeout, desperately trying to gather themselves and stop the game they’d once dominated from spiraling further out of hand, Durant — decked out in a dark blazer and dress pants — smiled wide and the pair of MVPs burst out laughing.
On a night when the rehabbing-Durant drew a crowd before the game — raining in jump shots and even throwing down a couple of vicious dunks — Curry went for a game-high 24 points and Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala produced game-changing defensive outings.
“His defense is really what makes him who he is,” head coach Steve Kerr said of Green, who had six rebounds, three blocks and a steal. “I think he’s the best defensive player in the league and I thought he showed that tonight.”
“You’ve got to mention Andre, as well, in that same breath,” Kerr added after the 107-98 win. “His defense tonight and everything he did was fantastic. He just continues his great play.”
Iguodala, who continues his post-KD injury renaissance, tallied three of the team’s 10 blocks, grabbed five boards, dished out as many assists and recorded his fourth consecutive double-digit showing (14 points).
Having entered the break trailed the West’s third seed by five — 61-56 — the Dubs pulled even at the end of the third before securing the comfortable nine-point win to push the club’s win streak to 10 in a row.
Golden State would have been in an even worse spot beginning the second half if not for a second-quarter burst from JaVale McGee. The reserve big man poured in all 13 of his points in six-minute span.
McGee also accounted for five blocks — two on a single defensive stand in the third quarter. The club’s defense was especially fierce in the fourth quarter when the Warriors held the Rockets to 13 points.
“We flew around,” Green said of the lockdown final stanza. “It started with that second unit who started the quarter off. They went back and forth a few minutes then they started to get stops and we came in and kind of picked it up from there.”
The slap and pinch
In the first half, TV cameras showed Green chopping at James Harden’s injured left wrist. At the end of his press conference, the two-time All-Star explained what happened.
“He pinched me,” Green said. “So I punched his wrist. That’s pretty much it. So, yeah.”
And where was the pinch?
“Like here,” Green said, as he signaled to his hip. “So, he does it often — actually, which is kind of adolescent, but whatever.”
Green added that the Beard’s tactics are not common around the league.